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Engaging Faith: Practical lesson ideas and activities for Catholic Educators

May 17, 2011

Wisdom for High School Graduates

Sr. Cheryl Milner, SNJM, and Dennis B. Ryan of Bellarmine-Jefferson High School in Burbank, California, have spent the past few years asking some of the "most renowned and influential thinkers and doers in the English-speaking world" to write letters of advise and counsel to the school's graduating classes. In 2010 they assembled these letters to form an excellent book Wisdom from Giants: Contemporary Legends Give Students Advice. The letters are wonderful and difficult to summarize in limited space. Two of the best are from Los Angeles-area sports' legends: UCLA basketball coach John Wooden (who passed away in 2010) and Dodger baseball announcer Vin Scully, now in his sixty-second year with the team. Here is what they wrote:

Dear Students and Faculty of Bellarmine-Jefferson High School:

Hopefully, you will find some of the following maxims taken from my book, Wooden: A Lifetime of Observations and Reflections On and Off the Court, to be enjoyable and meaningful.

  1. Failure to prepare is preparing to fail.
  2. Make each day your masterpiece.
  3. Do not be disagreeable when you disagree.
  4. What is right is more important than who is right.
  5. Disciple yourself, then others won't need to.
  6. Treat all people with dignity and respect.
  7. True happiness begins where selfishness ends.
  8. Be more interested in finding the best way rather than having your own way.
  9. Goals attained with little effort are seldom meaningful or lasting.
  10. Ability may get you to the top, but it takes character to keep you there.

The "Observations and Reflections" book is suitable for people of every age. However, I also want to suggest reading any book pertaining to my favorite figures, Abraham Lincoln and Mother Teresa.


John Wooden

To the Students of Bellarmine-Jefferson H.S.

It has taken me some time to write this letter, since we have been caught up moving from one house to another and the Dodgers have kept me busy when I wasn't packing.

My best advice to you can be summed up in three words—The Ten Commandments. Read them carefully and use them in your life. Follow them and I can assure you inner peace. I have never read a better prescription for the joy of life.

God Bless,

Vin Scully

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